The Power of a Pre-Travel Consultation
Occasionally we are asked “Why do I need a pre-travel consultation?” There are many reasons why booking a pre-travel consultation is a good idea. Whether you’re travelling abroad for business or pleasure, you are likely to encounter health risks at your destination that are not a consideration in Canada.
Why should I get a pre-travel consultation?
- You will meet with a doctor, RN or Nurse Practitioner specialized in travel health who is up to date on current disease outbreaks and vaccine recommendations
- The consultation is tailored to your specific itinerary, activities, and health and vaccine history
- You’ve invested your precious time and money for your trip: Be confident knowing you’ve learned preventative tips to avoid illness while travelling
- A pre-travel consultation can save you time and money in the long run
- Vaccines are an integral part of preventing illness. But your behaviour when travelling is equally important.
What’s involved in a pre-travel consultation?
- A detailed risk assessment – your health risks will differ depending on your destination, trip purpose, duration of travel, and planned activities.
- Education – you will receive up to date and personalized advice about the health risks at your destination and how to prevent illness caused by food and water, insects, blood and injuries.
- Specialized information – some health conditions require specialized travel advice such as pregnancy, immune compromising conditions, severe allergies or underlying health conditions.
- Immunizations – vaccine recommendations will depend on your age, health status, destination, planned activities, and previous vaccine history.
- Prescriptions – prescriptions may be recommended depending on your destination and planned activities, such as medications for malaria, prevention of high-altitude illness, or treatment of severe traveller’s diarrhea.
- Attention to cost – we understand that every traveller has a different budget and some people may not be able to afford all of the recommended immunizations and medications. We can prioritize what’s needed for your specific trip.
A crucial component of the pre-travel consultation is vaccinations. The risk assessment will allow us to determine what vaccines are recommended for your trip. Vaccine recommendations will include updating routine vaccines such as:
Vaccines recommended for travel may include:
- Hepatitis A/B
- Japanese Encephalitis
- Yellow Fever
“I know what vaccines I need for my trip – I looked it up on-line”
On occasion, travellers think they only need vaccines because they have reasearched the information for their trip online. Vaccine recommendations are not always straight forward. The recommendations not only depend on your destination and detailed risk assessment, but also on your previous vaccine history, age, health status, medications, and time before departure. We have seen clients, who have not had a consultation, receive and pay for vaccines they actually didn’t need.
Most of the vaccines are recommended to avoid illness but some are also required at your destination country. These required vaccines can include yellow fever and polio. If it is determined during your pre-travel consultation that there are required vaccines for your destination, we will provide you documentation on an International Certificate of Vaccination that you may need for entry into the country. It would be awful to arrive at your destination to find out you either cannot enter the country or be forced to receive the vaccine at the border!
It’s more than just vaccines!
Another focus of the pre-travel consultation is mosquito borne diseases that cannot be prevented by vaccines, such as malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya fever, and zika. Malaria can be a serious and potentially fatal disease. It is essential that travellers going to areas where there is malaria risk receive up to date advice regarding preventative measures and antimalarial medications. There are several types of antimalarial medications. The one recommended for you will depend on your destination, planned activities, health history, current medications and preference. To read more about malaria and antimalarial medications visit our blog.
It’s in the Research
Research has shown that travellers who receive a pre-travel consultation are at lower risk for malaria, hepatitis and HIV. There was also a study that looked at 1160 people diagnosed with traveller’s diarrhea. The people in this study who received a pre-travel consultation had shorter hospital stays and were less likely to receive gastroenterology consultations for prolonged or severe symptoms compared with the group who did not receive pre-travel consultations.
One Stop Shop
Sometimes clients ask why they should pay to have a pre-travel consultation when they can just go to their doctor for free. We see many clients referred to us by their doctors. While doctors can prescribe vaccines and medications, they are often not up to date on the latest recommendations and outbreaks. Often the vaccines are not available in their office so you may have to take the prescription from your doctor to the pharmacy and have the vaccines administered there. Sometimes the vaccines are not available and will need to be ordered by the pharmacy.
If you need the yellow fever vaccine you must go to a designated yellow fever vaccine centre to receive your vaccine. Sometimes trying to save a bit of money can create hassle in the long run! When you visit a travel clinic you can be sure that you can receive your travel health advice, vaccines, and prescriptions all in one visit!
Peace of Mind
One of the greatest benefits of a pre-travel consultation is peace of mind knowing you are protected and have the knowledge to avoid illness and injury on your trip. There are few things worse than contracting a disease or an illness while on vacation or during an important business trip – the effects of which can have devastating long-term effects. A quick, easy and pleasant pre-travel consultation can make all the difference! It’s worth the minor inconvenience and small-time commitment for such a profound payoff.
When it comes to your health, TravelSafe Clinic strongly believes in prevention and ensuring our clients have the knowledge to make wise decisions to avoid illness.
Before you travel abroad, the consultants at TravelSafe Clinic would love to conduct a pre-travel consultation with you! Simply call or email us today to book your appointment.
TravelSafe Clinical Educator – Kristin Cain, RN, BSc, MSc(A)